James Joyce's First Work

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the first publishing of Joyce's now well-known short story, "The Sisters." It was proposed by the editor of The Irish Homestead that he write something pastoral that would appeal to the general reader. Joyce was paid a commission of 1 lb (I have no idea how to make the British pound sign in html, sorry guys) and was set up to write six more stories in the Homestead; unfortunately, the paper rescinded this commission after too many readers wrote in complaining of Joyce's writing and subject matter.

Luckily for students of British literature and Irish history, this did not deter Joyce from writing his short stories; he wrote no less than 15 shorts from 1904 to 1907, and after much deliberation, these were published as Dubliners, now a Joyce classic.

Perhaps this helps to explain why the stories in Dubliners get progressively harder to read (and that is in no way a criticism). The early stories were written for a wider audience, but by the time Joyce was writing the later stories, he had already admitted to his publisher "I cannot write without offending people."

Original story from Writer's Almanac, August 13, 2009

1 comment

  1. Great little post about Joyce. Brings me back to my college days, and yet I didn't remember that bit of history you spoke about. Keep up the good work (every time I check your blog, I'm reminded that it's been over a week since I've posted. Slacker!)


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